8/23 Update: According to a report from The Fader, Blond was released as an independent album, with Endless having fulfilled Ocean's Def Jam contract.
It’s been a weekend in heaven for diehard fans of Frank Ocean, the California-bred R&B star who has been all but elusive since dropping his critically acclaimed album Channel Orange about four years ago. Just one day after dropping an unexpected visual album called Endless, which was premiered via live-stream on Apple Music, Ocean went on to release the project that everyone has been anticipating for years Blonde, stylized without the "e".
Originally slated to be titled Boys Don’t Cry, the Odd Future affiliated artist surprised fans by dropping a new album named Blond, a smooth batch of tracks that should hopefully keep our thirst for new Frank quenched for now. The album, which the New York Times incorrectly predicted would come out last month, features an extremely personal and vulnerable side of the singer like we’ve never seen before.
Compared to Endless, the album Blond features a much more stripped down production, showcasing the range of Frank Ocean’s voice in all of its marvelous forms. Much of the album is reminiscent of lounge music, with hints of gospel and alt-rock sprinkled over the soulful instrumentals. On "Solo" for instance, Ocean sings a beautifully sinful song about smoking solo over a gospel-spirited organ. “I brought trees to blow through, but it's just me and no you. Stayed up 'til my phone died, smoking big, rolling solo,” Ocean sings.
The album primarily focuses on Frank Ocean’s impenetrable voice, while the great Andre 3000 of Outkast shows up as his only main feature. The album credits a number musical guests and influences from all spectrums of music, including some who assisted on the album, such as Beyonce, Kendrick Lamar, and Tyler, the Creator, as well as impactful names like David Bowie, The Beatles, and Elliott Smith.
All in all, the album is perfect for a chilled out, introspective smoke sesh. Frank Ocean’s voice is as good as ever, and his sincere lyrics about heartbreak and soul-searching will certainly leave you feeling some type of way. Packed with soul-baring production, elegant guitar work, and the holy voice of Frank Ocean, Blond is a piece of work filled with brutal and beautiful honesty. The album is currently available as an Apple Music exclusive, but should find itself with physical release and on other streaming platforms in the next couple of weeks.
Aside from his elusive double-album release during this past weekend, Frank Ocean also released his complementary Boys Don’t Cry magazine in certain pop-up shops in New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, and London. He’s also spoken out about the recent tragedy in Orlando, and has become a staple model for the new Calvin Klein 2016 Fall campaign. With Blond and Endless on everyone's rotation, we can safely say that Summer 16 now belongs to Frank Ocean.
And, who knows what other surprises he may have in store for us along the way?